Tuesday, May 30, 2006

7 Ages on Memorial Day

I showed up about 10:15 to find Brian, John, and Mike ready and waiting, and by 11:00 we had the game setup, a brief rules summary under our belt, and we were on our way. We played till 4:30 with a break for lunch. For these monster games, I think this is the right way to teach: brief rule summary, then learn by doing.

I'll let the other guys chime in with details of our session.

As a brief summary, I like this game on balance. The fun part for me is watching the rise and fall of various empires. "Civilizing" your empire is one of the most fun things in the game, and at least as important as battles. I think this is a game where the pleasure is in the playing, although it was very disheartening to lose by more than a factor of 2. *sigh* Still, I killed Brian's Alexander the Great with my Attila the Hun, and that ain't bad.

My biggest complaint is that I don't understand the tactics of combat, but that's not really the game's fault. At the end of the game I finally understood the mechanics, but I had big stacks of buys wiped out several times. While I don't understand the tactics, the mechanics are kind of interesting with a 'fatigue' thing involved.

Other complaints are secondary to the pleasure of watching the game unfold. Is it more fun than 4-5 euros added together (same play time)? Not everyday, but once in a while, yeah I think it is. Some pleasures can only be attained after a significant committment.

I think 3-5 players is the right # for this game. 2 players would each have 7 empires, and I wouldn't be able to handle that. 6-7 players always gets very chaotic. 3 or 5 might be more "fair" because there are 15 colors available for empires. With 4 players, 3 players have 4 empires and the last guy only has 3. While this isn't 'fair,' I like the tension of trying to get that last one, even though I spent most of the game w/ only 3.

Overall, a really fun way to spend Memorial Day. Thanks to Brian for bringing the game w/ player aids, teaching us, and also for suggesting it early enough that I could schedule it with my wife. Thanks also to John, and Michael for playing.


At 12:29 PM, May 30, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

I don't have time for a long comment:

7 Ages: great, long, I want to play again (full game anyone?)

Indonesia: Has some Acquire elements (merging except everybody gets their fair share of the profits), some Age of Steam elements (the r&d stuff), and some general train game elements (cutting people off (albeit with companies and cities, not boats), plus the boats must be linked from sea to sea to trace a shipping line just like trains in a real train game). I liked it but didn't really feel like I could wrap my brain about what the best play each time was. I lucked into a winning strategy by default (Brian and Jon forced me out of the shipping business early in the game) and in this game a massive production base was able to carry the day.

At 1:39 PM, May 30, 2006, Blogger Jonathan W. said...

I really enjoyed playing 7 Ages, a full game might be a bit unrealistic due to the fact that it took us 5-6 hours to play 1.5 ages out of the full 7.

At 9:59 PM, May 30, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

I should print out the 16th set of counters, but it would take simply hours and honestly, I'm not willing to spend the time. I'd be willing to say that the locked out player gets 3 VP/turn as long as everyone else has four. That would also encourage people with a a mediocre (1-2 point) civ to drop it to free up the slot.

I agree that 7 Ages is more of a 'story' game than a play to win game. It's great once every now and then.

At 11:19 AM, June 01, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Man, I'm sorry I missed out on the fun.

7 Ages sounds like a true monster... I could probably keep a board set up in my guest house over several weeks it would take to play through if there was ever sufficient group resolve to see it through.

I officially have 1-9 Jul 2006 off work, and I'm hoping to do as much gaming as possible during this time. In particular, I'm hopeful 3 Jul 2006 (i.e., the Monday before Independence Day) might serve as another all-day gamefest.

No Sword of Rome yet?

At 2:26 PM, June 01, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Apparently no Sword of Rome.

I'd love to have more opportunity to play group wargames, but I don't know what the general group opinion on them is. It seems to me that: a. scheduling is a biggie, b. euros and "americans" are generally preferred by more in the group. Like Ted said, burning a whole day on one of the monster group "wargames" every now and then is totally worth it IMHO.

I've been hesitant to get games like Here I Stand (GMT), Samurai Lords (MMP), Pax Romana (GMT), TI3 (FF), etc because of this.

At 4:53 PM, June 01, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

I'll admit that the longer games are tough, but I'd certainly like to try Sword of Rome (and play Here I Stand again, with 3).

The real problem is that you can't wing a wargame. 7 Ages is pretty easy, actually. The rules take 30 minutes (or so) to get started. But Here I Stand takes hours to explain. Everyone has to read the rules ahead of time, and the first game will have significant rules questions.

That being said, several of these games can be played on Monday night. If you start at 6pm, we'll have ~5.5 hours. Of course, it may be better to take a weekend. I can't schedule a full day often, but I can a few times...

At 5:03 PM, June 01, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

That's my way of saying that if you buy Here I Stand, Samurai Lords (and probably Pax Romana), I'm in like Flynn.

At 5:16 PM, June 01, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Wellington (GMT) is another solid 3-4 hour card-driven wargame, playable with 2-4 players I'd like to try on a Monday. If I don't get Wilderness War (3-4 hours again) out sometime soon, I'll probably have a conniption.

Like Brian said though, with these game you just can't wing it ... You need to invest an hour or two ahead of time giving the rules at least a once-over ahead of time or you're probably just going to be frustrated when you play.

Sword of Rome is definitely the same deal... you can burn through the rules in probably an hour of private quiet time, then be ready to sit down for your first play.

To me, its a small price to pay for a great, engrossing wargame experience. Sounds like I'm not alone here! I say let's make some plans and work together to make it successful. In time, all our favorite wish list games are bound to see table time.

At 8:56 AM, June 02, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Well, once I'm in the gaming scene again in mid July, I'll think about finally getting one of these group monster wargames.

Commitment seems to be another important concept to be able to actually do this. Commitment to read the rules beforehand, and to ignore all the gaming goodness going on that night to play the monster game.

Weekends tend to be bad for me. Monday evenings are much better bets....specially if we start like at 5pm. I'll post something eventually when I do get one of these behemoths. Knowing there is indeed interest, I'll preorder Samurai Lords.


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